Russian Arctic: the new life of the Northern Sea Route


At the end of last year, the Russian government approved a plan for the development of the infrastructure of the Northern Sea Route (NSR) until 2035. The document was prepared in the development of the President’s Address to the Federal Assembly, in which Vladimir Putin determined the immediate prospects for the NSR - by 2024, increase freight traffic to 80 million tons.


For the development of the Russian Arctic


This is a very ambitious goal. The volume declared by the president is ten times more than the speed of the NSR in Soviet times (6,6 million tons). True, then it was achieved mainly due to the so-called northern delivery, when fuel, food, industrial and construction materials were delivered to the Arctic ports for residents of the region.

Now the tasks are of a completely different order. Putin formulated them like this: to ensure "the development of the Russian Arctic, the regions of the Far East" and make the Northern Sea Route "a truly global, competitive transport artery."

This is already being implemented. For example, the Soviet-era traffic volume was exceeded back in 2016. Last year, the Northern Sea Route cargo turnover reached 31,5 million tons. As the directors of the NSR specified, the growth to the level of 2018 amounted to 10,4 million tons. It is mainly provided by an increase in the shipment of liquefied natural gas from the port of Sabetta. It handled 20,5 million tons of cargo.

The second largest (7,7 million tons) was the Arctic Gate at the Kamenny Cape. He started working in 2016 and then shipped 4,5 million tons of Novy Port brand new oil from the Novoportovskoye oil and gas condensate field. Since then, terminal shipping has increased by more than 70%.

The third place in turnover was taken by the port in Dudinka with 1,5 million tons of cargo. 37 transit flights added another 697,2 thousand tons to the SPM asset - an increase of 2018% by 41,9.

As you can see, the most active work is going on in the western sector of the Northern Sea Route, where they are developing the shelf and the Gazprom, Novatek, Lukoil, Rosneft, and Rosshelf fields closest to the ports. They give the main increase in cargo turnover.


Waiting for new icebreakers


The western sector of the Arctic (from Murmansk to Dudinka) is now working year-round. It is served by icebreakers of Rosatomflot. Since 2006, Norilsk Nickel has delivered its cargoes and socially significant cargoes to residents of the Norilsk industrial region on its own Arctic vessels (six units fleet) the highest ice class ARC-7, which do not require icebreaking support.

Oil and gas workers provided themselves with vessels of the reinforced ice class, although in difficult Arctic winter conditions they could not do without the help of icebreakers. The eastern sector of the Arctic (from Dudinka to Chukotka) is used mainly in the summer months of navigation. Diesel icebreakers of the Far Eastern Shipping Company work there.

This is precisely the weak link of the NSR, which impedes year-round transit cargo transportation. Meanwhile, the advantages of their delivery from East Asia to Europe via the northern route are obvious. For example, from Vladivostok, through the Suez Canal to St. Petersburg, you need to go almost 13000 nautical miles, and along the northern seas - 7600 miles.

The entire northern route can work fully only with the support of powerful atomic icebreakers. Three of them, project 22220, are now being built in St. Petersburg at the Baltic Plant. They are able to overcome ice up to 2,8 m, make a channel more than 30 m wide, work in the seas and riverbeds.

Only now the construction of these icebreakers has tightened up. The main one, the Arctic, came out last December with a two-year delay. In February, he had an accident in the propeller shaft electric motor. Now the transfer of the icebreaker to the customer has again moved forward, according to some reports - for a year.

Be that as it may, in the next three years, new nuclear powered ships will leave for the Arctic. But they will not solve the pressing problems. Firstly, the new icebreakers will partially replace the retiring ones and will be concentrated in the currently active Western sector of the NSR. Secondly, even these powerful nuclear powered ships do not provide passage in the ice of modern transit container ships that require a channel with a width of more than 40 meters.

In Russia, an icebreaker of such a project is being developed under the code "Leader". It will be twice as powerful as those under construction today (a nuclear power plant of 120 MW versus 60 megawatts in the new Arctic), break four-meter ice and go at a speed of 12 knots through a two-meter one. The design width of the nuclear-powered ship is 46 meters.

In accordance with the plan approved by the government, the first “Leader” is to enter the Arctic seas in December 2027. By that time, four new Arctic-type icebreakers will be operating at the NSR. Two more “leaders” will be built in 2030 and 2032.

SMP "goes into space"


These are long-range plans. In the next four years, 16 rescue and 13 hydrographic vessels will be made for the Northern Sea Route. A highly elliptical hydrometeorological satellite system “Arktika-M” has been deployed and will ensure uninterrupted communication along the entire northern route.

In the future, the Arctic constellation will comprise four Arktika-M satellites, three each - Resource-PM and Condor-FKA. Based on them, automatic identification of objects in the water areas of the NSR and a remote sensing system will operate.

In addition, a new helicopter model will be developed for new and existing icebreakers. They will also make a ramp aircraft capable of taking up to 10 tons of cargo, cover distances of up to four thousand kilometers, and land in ice and unpaved airfields in Arctic conditions.

There are other activities in the plan. They will allow to increase by 2035 the transportation of goods through the NSR to 160 million tons. Most of this volume will be provided by companies that are developing deposits in the Far North today. All this is the new life of the Northern Sea Route.

In order for it to take place, until 2024 about 900 billion rubles will be allocated for the development of the Northern Sea Route. A third of these funds will come from the federal budget. The remaining amount will be invested by Rosatom, subsoil users (Novatek, Rosneft and others) and private investors.
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  1. Andrei from Chelyabinsk 25 March 2020 07: 56 New
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    Stupid. We’ll waste money, but no one will go on the NSR anyway except for the northern delivery. Actually, the NSR is much more complicated, and no matter how expensive Suez
    1. rudolff 25 March 2020 08: 11 New
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      Well ... now the northern export has been added to the northern delivery. Oil, liquefied gas. And in transit through the NSR, it is unlikely that it will. If only in a very distant future.
    2. Vladimir_2U 25 March 2020 08: 12 New
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      Quote: Andrey from Chelyabinsk
      Stupid. We’ll waste money, but no one will go on the NSR anyway except for the northern delivery.
      In my opinion, it’s still much better and smarter than in Europe and China to drive gas through pipes, neither mind nor imagination, but here some icebreakers as the engine of the economy are worth it!
      1. Andrei from Chelyabinsk 25 March 2020 08: 24 New
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        Yes, that’s not the point. An SMP is needed for our northern import and export, and it is under these volumes that it needs to be developed. But to fantasize that he will become a transport artery is not necessary, because he will not. Now our leaders will sink tens of billions into infrastructure for transit, but it will not be
    3. Mavrikiy 25 March 2020 08: 19 New
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      for modern transit container ships that require a channel wider than 40 meters. The design width of the nuclear-powered ship is 46 meters.
      Like so. repeat But why should zadnicu tear and grab all the transit immediately and now? It is necessary to begin the development of the NSR from a small HF Panamax Class - (4000-7000 TEU), have a width of 32 m.
      True, what to do with the HF of 13000 TEU, the length of these vessels is 397 m, the width is 56 m, the draft is 15,5 m? It’s scary to think about gas turbines of 26-30 knots, but they already exist. Can we also take it under the NSR? fool
    4. carstorm 11 25 March 2020 08: 23 New
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      Andrei I like to read your texts, but here you are a little wrong. about stupidity. you just for some reason think that the matter is in competition with the Suez Canal. it’s just the development of the NSR. nobody is going to compete with him.
      1. Andrei from Chelyabinsk 25 March 2020 08: 26 New
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        Just from the article follows what are going. At least I made just such a conclusion, but I object to it against the development of SMP for our needs, this is necessary and correct
        1. carstorm 11 25 March 2020 08: 50 New
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          I saw her opportunities there rather) they just will become more and more if you develop it specifically for yourself. one will pull the other. with time. with the amount of resources that are in the Arctic there over the years it will become quite crowded and you can simply slurp prospects.
          1. Andrei from Chelyabinsk 25 March 2020 10: 22 New
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            Will not pull. The point here is that for our needs it is necessary to develop the western part of the NSR, and for transit - also the eastern
        2. antivirus 25 March 2020 09: 33 New
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          to open 400 years ago, to scientifically describe -100-200 years ago, to master part of the life of the region, to use it for commercial (without loss-making - what does this according to the leadership of the country ???) purposes - is different.
          "where the Russian flag is hoisted, it should not go down" is an amendment to the Constitution.
          COSTS 400 YEARS DONE - GIVING ONLY BEGINNED.
          and it will be - without losses, "the calculation of profitability showed" and confirmed ... pull the plans of the gramadier in slogans to infinity, scare partners.
          The NSR (eastern part) depends on trade activity — EU-China.
          across the southern seas there are intermediate consumers (hundreds of millions) every 500 miles
      2. Mavrikiy 25 March 2020 08: 40 New
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        Quote: carstorm 11
        it's just the development of the NSR. nobody is going to compete with him.

        Read the press. The USSR was not able to really master the NSR precisely because of its low economy and low filling of the route, only the northern delivery. Now, yes, the export of LNG and oil provides substantial filling, but still not enough. For SMP, hundreds of lard $ investments are needed. The construction of ports, cities, yes, shift workers can’t get rid of, support services along the entire route and a lot more. The western section of the NSR is being developed in our country, but on the eastern, the horse did not roll. request
        1. carstorm 11 25 March 2020 08: 51 New
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          so about the same conversation) the need for these investments.
        2. Peter is not the first 25 March 2020 21: 40 New
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          Investing in infrastructure on its territory is much more profitable for the economy than investing in other countries.
  2. Mavrikiy 25 March 2020 08: 03 New
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    For example, from Vladivostok, through the Suez Canal to St. Petersburg, you need to go almost 13000 nautical miles, and along the northern seas - 7600 miles.
    Stupidity. No transit mill. tons of cargo to Peter is not going to carry. Tracks need to count to Germany, Europe.
    1. Loess 25 March 2020 08: 19 New
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      Quote: Mavrikiy
      Tracks need to count to Germany, Europe.

      Considering the fact that you can get to St. Petersburg from Vladivostok only by passing around Scandinavia, the distance to German ports is even less than to St. Petersburg.
  3. Far B 25 March 2020 08: 15 New
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    This is a very ambitious goal.
    This phrase is especially alarming. "Very ambitious goals" have already been voiced many times, only with the achievement of somehow not very. Where are 25 million jobs? Where are the 12 May decrees? What are the results of the currently executed SuperUkaz? With regard to the Northern Sea Route - I remember that in 2014 or 15, Putin announced a "very ambitious goal" for the construction of BAM-2. How are things with construction? Ambition - a wagon and a small cart, but with the implementation it’s not at all ah.
  4. rocket757 25 March 2020 08: 32 New
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    It’s difficult and expensive to develop.
    What other options are there?
    For a little, a little, no matter how? There will be a deficiency, and this is always fraught with ....
    1. Andrei from Chelyabinsk 25 March 2020 08: 39 New
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      The question is the volume of development. We count on the supply of the north and the export of minerals - one infrastructure. Under the assumption that foreign carriers will come running to us and carry transit through the NSR in billions of tons, the other is much more expensive. We need the first, but they will invest in the second option
      1. rocket757 25 March 2020 08: 47 New
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        As always and everywhere - Do you have a PLAN, Mr. Fox s? -
        It all starts with plans, preferably long-term! Where are you our GOSPLAN ???
        1. Avior 25 March 2020 11: 34 New
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          Mr. Fix :)
  5. Free wind 25 March 2020 10: 01 New
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    But who needs this way, oil industry workers? Well, let them develop it. The so-called northern delivery goes mainly along the Ob, Yenisei, Lena. Koreans and Japanese are unlikely to go this route, they do not have ice class container ships, they are much more expensive, and they have less payload and they need to keep a bigger team and pay more. But for gas carriers and tankers, at any moment, the Chinese and Koreans and Japanese can wave a pen at any moment, in general, a project-based project.
  6. kig
    kig 25 March 2020 10: 19 New
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    It can become a transit only when the ice cover in winter there will be the same as it is now in the Gulf of Finland. And to brag about the increased cargo flow ... in those days they brought goods for those who lived and worked there, and now they are taking out the national treasure. Oh yes, I forgot - under the Constitution, land and other natural resources may be in private, state, municipal and other forms of ownership
    1. Alexey RA 25 March 2020 14: 02 New
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      Quote: kig
      It can become a transit only when the ice cover in winter there will be the same as it is now in the Gulf of Finland.

      Ahem ... it depends on what winter is in St. Petersburg. smile
      In 2011, pilotage of vessels in the Gulf of Finland had to be provided by the Vaigach AED.

      And in 2012 even ALED “50 years of Victory” had to be involved.
      1. kig
        kig 26 March 2020 00: 55 New
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        Quote: Alexey RA
        Ahem ... it depends on what winter is in St. Petersburg

        Well now, winters seem to be more modest every year, but all the same, hopes for the NSR as an alternative to the Suez Canal are floodlights. For a very long time it will be interesting only to us.
  7. honest people 25 March 2020 13: 41 New
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    Quote: Free Wind
    But who needs this way, oil industry workers? Well, let them develop it. The so-called northern delivery goes mainly along the Ob, Yenisei, Lena. Koreans and Japanese are unlikely to go this route, they do not have ice class container ships, they are much more expensive, and they have less payload and they need to keep a bigger team and pay more. But for gas carriers and tankers, at any moment, the Chinese and Koreans and Japanese can wave a pen at any moment, in general, a project-based project.

    The allocation of NWF funds for investment projects has yet to be postponed, said the head of the Accounts Chamber Alexei Kudrin. He added that fulfilling the goals of “national projects”, including the technological breakthrough and a sharp reduction in poverty, “will be definitely difficult this year”.